Thomas O'Connell Sr. et al vs. United State Catholic Conference of Bishops.
Full text of the injunction/restraining order filed by Attorney Jeffrey Anderson of St. Paul, Minnesota, on behalf of the O'Connell family of Hudson, Wisconsin against the USCCB and the currently responsible Bishop of every single diocese in the United States. The Bishops are being sued as executives and as individuals, making them personally liable if there are any damages.
1. This Complaint seeks injunctive relief against the Bishops and the USCCB. The Bishops and the USCCB have established a policy of harboring and protecting suspected child molesting agents, thereby endangering numerous children throughout the United States. The Bishops and the USCCB have information about a number of of suspected child molesting agents that it has never disclosed to law enforcement agents or the public at large, thereby causing harm to people such as Plaintiffs to be harmed. [sic] This injunction action seeks to have the Bishops and the USCCB turn over all documents regarding the molestation of children by its agents or former agents to law enforcement, and to release the names of all agents or former agents accused of molesting children to law enforcement and to the public.
Past History: Dan O'Connell and James Ellison were allegedly killed by Fr. Ryan Erickson when Mr. O'Connell confronted Fr. Erickson with allegations that Fr. Erickson had sexually abused children.
The document lists 176 CURRENT members of the USCCB by name as Defendents (Paragraphs No. 12 through 188) . Each one is being sued both in their capacity as individuals as well as their capacity as Bishops.
The suit calls for the USCCB to release the names and locations of any its agents and former agents (uses the word "agents" not priests in particular) with BOTH credible allegations (Paragraph 241) of sexual misconduct with children AND those ACCUSED to law enforcement and the public (Paragraph 242).
---suit asks for names of any "agents" and "former agents" uncovered during the USCCB audits of 2002 (243 (a)) as well as those names the USCCB learned from ANY source (Paragraph 243(b))
---alleges that USCCB received a report of clergy sexual abuse at their annual meeting in 1985 but did nothing.
---recaps the Fr. Erickson/Dan O'Connell/James Ellison allegations and court case. (Paragraphs 208 thru 231)
[Paragraphs 208 through 227 are not being reproduced here. Father Ryan Erickson is dead. His trial has been concluded.]
---alleges a wholesale conspiracy ("meeting of the minds") on the part of the USCCB after the Fr. Erickson/Dan O'Connell/James Ellison case (Paragraph 233)
---seeks creation of class action status (Paragraph 189)
---does NOT ask for monetary damages.
Ray from MN: This is a lawsuit filed in Hudson, St Croix County, Wisconsin, District Court by Jeffrey Anderson against the currently responsible Bishop of every single American diocese, corporately and individually, asking them to pour open their files and give them to him. It also is a petition to have the case tried as a class action. Anderson was one of the earliest and most aggressive attorneys to seek out plaintiffs against sexual abusers of children who were employed by the Church or one of its agencies. Things are coming to an end now and most of the big cases have been filed and settled. This suit would have any cases to come forth in the future be handled as a class action by Anderson. Other attorneys may object to that. As may the Court.
Copy of the actual legal filing is attached to this posting here. Repetitive information with the lists of the names of Bishops and their Dioceses has been removed for ease in reading. Explicit information regarding the alleged offenses of Father Ryan Erickson who committed suicide and has subsequently been declared guilty of the murder of two men in Hudson, Wisconsin, has been omitted also as it is not pertinent to the class action request. And I am not a lawyer.
Cathy_of_Alex (who found the copy of the filing on the Internet):
I feel terrible for the O'Connell, Ellison and Erickson families and friends. I pray for them. But, the sad fact of the matter is the O'Connell's are never going to get the answers they seem to need in order to heal because ALL of the principles in their specific tragedy are dead. Even if they meet with the Holy Father himself, the Holy Father is not going to have personal insight into what really happened.There is no doubt in my mind that some clergy in the Roman Catholic Church sinned terribly and abused their authority. That said, not every Priest has done so. The fact that this suit asks for the names and locations of any agent EVER ACCUSED scares me. "Agent" and "former agent" are undefined terms thus far. Any Priest, Religious, Deacon or Layperson affiliated with the USCCB that was cleared of any allegations of sexual impropriety could have their name revealed to everyone if this case is successful. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? This is guilty, even if you were proven innocent. How many of these people are even still alive? How many names could be slandered and they can't defend themselves?